Two Mlungisi families whose homes were damaged by a high mast light which fell on December 26 have called out the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM), for being negligent in handling the matter of a leaning light pole that was reported more than three years ago.
Residents of the area indicated the high mast light in Pambo Street had been leaning forward for more than three years, and that it was reported to the local authority on numerous occasions in that time, but no action was taken.
The light had been standing on three loose bolts and on soil, rather than on a concrete foundation as usually seen.
A member of one of the families, Thembisa Nkanti, said EMLM mayor Luleka Gubhula and previous mayors knew about the leaning light pole but did nothing.
“The light was a danger to the whole community because it could have fallen on people walking in the street. It was most dangerous for children who played on the street near it because the bolts were loose. We have reported it for years to the mayor, but no action was taken.
“In 2018 my brother reported the light and people from the EMLM technical services department came to inspect it. They indicated that a contractor from Bloemfontein would charge the municipality R250 000 to remove it, which they could not afford at the time.”
She said her sister had been sitting outside a back room flat when the light fell, causing her to pass out.
“The back room flat was hit by the light, damaging the roof, wall and furniture. There is also a heavy battery-like device that fell inside. A man from the municipality came to assess the damage on Tuesday and promised to remove the remains of the pole after it had been cut because it was blocking the road. They promised to fix our homes and we hope they will do so as soon as possible,” said Nkanti.
Resident Nozipho Prusent said she was disappointed that the high mast light had to eventually fall before the municipality attended to it.
“We hope they do not give us empty promises because our houses are being further damaged by the rains as part of the roof and wall was smashed. My fence was also broken so our safety is compromised and it allows roaming livestock to enter my yard.”
EMLM spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa said the municipality would take full responsibility of the damages to the homes.
“The remains of the high mast light will be removed this week. The incident occurred at a time when most companies were closed for vacation and it was difficult to hire a contractor that could do all the work needed.
“We have been able to fix the light due to our financial state and because our funds were at the time withheld, maintenance issues could not be resolved. There is a maintenance plan to repair high mast lights and electricity poles but this is subject to the availability of funds.”